"I finally found a way to sleep in my office. Under the desk. I lie on my back. I tuck in the chair. I'm invisible."

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

 
massagechair.jpgSleeping on the job (or, at least, talk of it) is all the rage in Major League Baseball these days, whether you’re Ken Griffey Jr. (allegedly) or Keith Hernandez.

Frankly, I’m feeling a bit peaked myself after an early morning wakeup call for the flight to K.C. But I’m supremely confident I can get through tonight’s activity without dozing off.

I am, however, a little worried about the Indians this week, only because the visitor’s clubhouse here at Kauffman Stadium has one of those Sharper Image/Brookstone/whatever electric massage chairs, and it looks overly inviting.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Manny Acta said not to read anything into Luis Valbuena not starting again tonight. He said the plan was to get Valbuena a few days off last week to clear his head. But when Asdrubal Cabrera went down, Valbuena was needed at short. Still, Valbuena’s performance in those games didn’t improve his stock any, and Mark Grudzielanek is batting .326 with seven RBIs in his last 12 games. This is one of two spots in the lineup where the Indians must weigh the importance of the development of youth vs. the benefit of playing the hotter hand.
  • The other is left field. Thanks to the unexpected Austin Kearns effect and his own struggles, Matt LaPorta’s playing time is trending in the wrong direction. He’s out of the lineup again tonight and has started just four of the nine games this month. LaPorta is 8-for-his-last-48 and has zero RBIs in his last 19 games (his only RBI came in the second game of the season).
  • How about Russell the Muscle putting down a sac bunt Sunday? Branyan has only done that four times in his career. And then in the second inning tonight, he went out and hit his first homer of the season. Before the game, Acta said he wasn’t worried about Branyan’s slow start. “It’s a small sample,” Acta said. “He needs to get in a rhythm and have more games and at-bats before we make an assessment, because the power is still there.” Branyan proved him right soon thereafter.
  • Before Branyan’s blast, the Indians were one of only three teams without a homer from the first base position this season. Baltimore and Colorado were the others.
  • As you might have heard, the Blue Jays will have three home games against the Phillies moved to Philadelphia next month because of the G20 summit in Toronto. Apparently, Progressive Field was, at one point, discussed as a possible location for the games, because the Jays are also in Cleveland on that road trip. That’s a scenario that did not appeal to Vernon Wells. Wells summoned his inner Joakim Noah when he said, “But then we’d be in Cleveland for a week, and that’d be interesting.” Whatever, Vernon.
  • Acta talked about the spin Mitch Talbot puts on his changeup, which makes it an effective pitch. “When he gets in a rhythm,” Acta said, “he can throw that pitch at any time.” Talbot survived on his changeup in Sunday’s win, and he’s now tied for second in the AL with four victories on the season. He’s second among AL rookies in innings (39 1/3) and third in ERA (3.43).
  • The Indians’ 18 errors are tied for the third-fewest in the league.
  • Left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz made his Double-A Akron debut Monday and gave up two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. He took the loss. De La Cruz allowed just three hits to left-handers in 33 at-bats in Kinston, and his WHIP in Class A was 0.88.
  • Right-hander Joe Gardner is a name to watch in the lower levels. He moved up to Kinston and made his debut Sunday, going five scoreless innings in a win over Potomac. Gardner gave up two hits, walked two and struck out four. He’s struck out 42 batters in 30 innings combined this season between Lake County and Kinston.
  • Chris Gimenez has a 10-game hitting streak for Columbus. He’s batting .421 (16-for-38) during the stretch. Shelley Duncan is batting .396 over his last 11 games.
  • Michael Brantley has hit in eight straight games and 12 of 13 since getting sent down to the Clippers.
  • Finally, my review of Sunday’s Pearl Jam show, since several of you asked: Strong, but not transcendent. Believe me, I have the utmost respect for PJ and their policy on shaking up the setlist and packing it with rarities night after night after night. However, in my opinion, this leaves the show without any discernible flow or theme or structure. Some, I’m sure, love this about Pearl Jam shows. But as much as I appreciate the element of surprise, I didn’t come out feeling as though the band had taken me to another place at any point. And while it might not be fair to PJ, their reputation precedes them and thus holds them to a higher standard than most. The band was tight, and Ed Vedder’s voice was as crisp as can be. So, again, believe me when I say it was a strong performance. But it was just not transcendent, and that’s the result on which all rock shows shall be judged. I give it a B+, thanks to extra credit points for “Leash,” “Smile” and “In Hiding,” in addition to two of my aforementioned Top Five (“Hail Hail” and “Given to Fly”).

~AC

8 Comments

I wondered if Progressive Field might be considered for the Jays series, since it is close enough for Toronto natives to travel to. I would be pretty upset if I were the Jays. At least when we got snowed out we got to play at a neutral site. How can you give an away team home-field advantage for an entire series? Rediculous.

Anyways, I understand what you are saying about Pearl Jam. And I have wondered that over the years… how do more casual fans recieve their shows. Cleveland was my 10th time seeing them, and third in four nights, so for a guy like me, they can play about anything and I am pretty happy. But I can understand, how the majority of the crowd in Cleveland might have lost interest when a song like Sleight of Hand came out. But the three you mentioned were defintley highlights, especially Leash, which I had not seen before and did not see coming at all.

Yeah…just send LaPorta back down and call up Gimenez (as much as I think Crowe would be a good fit, I think they still want him to get every ABs, and I don’t know that Gimenez really has a future with this organization — and he could be good trade material, given his versatility). Valbuena is our utility infielder now, let’s just call it as it is.
Good to see us beat a team we all think we should beat.

LACF, who would you remove from the FMR in order to promote Gimenez? I don’t understand what is going on lately from the gallery. Gimenez is a guy that couldn’t hit the broad sign of a barn last year (111 ABs) and we are pining to promote him not only to the ML level but also drop someone to add him to the FMR simply b/c he’s done well, ironically enough again, over 74 ABs?

Someone please explain this to me…

I’d have to look at the FMR, but I can’t imagine it would be that hard to find someone to move, all things considered.
I only mention Gimenez because Crowe seems like the option that makes the most sense, but we were told heading into the season that they wanted him to play every day, which is why they sent him to Columbus. Calling him up would make him the 4th outfielder, which is what they were supposedly trying to avoid.
So the question isn’t really “who should they bring up?” because the answer to that is negated by things like timing, money, and long term plans. The question is more “who CAN they bring up?” and Gimenez is the most likely answer.
Again, I think they should call up Crowe, particularly given Grady’s struggles, but that would undermine their reason for sending him to Columbus to begin with.

If Crowe has a future with the Indians, I feel like it’s part-time 4th outfielder. He’s not considered a “prospect” at this point. So I don’t see anything wrong with calling him up to be a part time player now. Makes a lot more sense then having Laporta up here as a part time player. There are so many problems with having Laporta up here. He’s not playing every day, so it’s going to be tough for him to get straightened out, he’s juggling between positions, which also likely makes it more difficult to concentrate on his offense and getting his swing corrected, and maybe the worst thing is he’s taking at bats from Marte at 1B against left handed pitching by virtue of being right handed, even though he has never hit left handed pitching well. The “getting Crowe regular at bats” might have made sense at the beginning of the year, when it was between Kearns and Crowe for 4th outfielder, but when it’s between Crowe and Laporta, Crowe is the lesser prospect (and a guy who probably needs to learn to stay productive with limited at bats anyway). How much more sense does it make to send Laporta down right now, to hopefully get his issues worked out in an everyday role in a less pressure-filled environment, so when they trade Kearns and/or Branyan in July they can call him back up, and he’s ready?If they wanted to go with Gimenez, they could probably drop Carlos Rivero from the 40 man. I imagine he’d make it through waivers, since he’s hitting .208 in AA. Why the heck did the put him on the roster in the first place? That always seemed like an odd move … I’d cut Gimenez some slack, AM, because he was hitting around .200 in AAA when they called him up last year. So they called him up to face major league pitching in the middle of a slump. It always seemed like a bad idea. Maybe if they called him up when he was in the middle of a hot streak, he would perform well. Doubtful, but who knows. He can’t be worse than Laporta’s been.

Has Bruce Drennan been on the air since Branyan’s 2 bombs? Just curious if he has commented on the “ballerina” swing? Maybe we’re back to the old Russell “The Muscle,” when every time he steps to the plate, you feel like he’s going to jack one?? Hope so.

I’ve always considered Crowe a 4th outfielder. I was surprised when they gave the nod to Kearns coming out of spring training, but that seems to have worked out well.
I have to think the front office is concerned about the future of our outfield. Between Grady’s slum, Choo’s new agent, and the fact that Kearns is only signed for a year, there’s go to be some discussion about who’s going to be out there in the future. It makes me wonder if they’re trying to get more mileage out of Crowe than he seems to have — still trying to get him to be an every day guy.
I liked him as a 4th outfielder, to be honest. He gives us everything we could ask for from such a role player (the ability to play center and speed, basically).

After watching the Drennan bit, it’s really funny to watch Branyan go up there and swing, because that is exactly what he does, he has this elaborate follow-through, whether he just cranked a home run, or missed a pitch by a few feet.Fangraphs had an interesting analysis of Sizemore’s plate discipline issues this year:http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/grady-sizemore-plate-discipline-problems/
I imagine we’ve all noticed this from him, where he so often swings at the worst pitch that he sees in at bat. I wonder what the reason for it is. Is it just an extended slump? Does it have something to do with what the pitching coach has been working on? I noticed Hafner and Marte doing this a lot in spring training, just taking, taking, taking even when they were good pitches to hit until they got to 2 strikes. In Marte’s case it seemed to actually lead to improved plate discipline, something he’d struggled with since he’s been with the Indians organization, in Hafner’s case it seemed to help him in the spring where he eventually started swinging at the good pitches no matter the count, but didn’t carry over to the regular season, and I don’t now so much see Hafner taking good pitches as he is just missing them by a bit. I’ve mentioned before here that Sizemore and Marson especially have been doing this in the regular season, taking strike 1 and 2 down the middle then hacking away when they get to 2 strikes … this is why I appreciate Branyan. You know he’s going to give you at least three massive swings per at bat. None of that bat on shoulder, watching a strike go by business.

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